Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just Too Busy--Review

Although it was many years ago I remember meeting myself going and coming, taking kids to football and cheerleading practice, church, music lessons and trying to have dinner on the table before bedtime. I was an overwhelmed taxi driver, policeman, cook and mom. Today I see my kids doing the same with their kids. Joanne Kraft and her husband experienced burnout from this lifestyle and took their family on a radical sabbatical. Frankly, I'm glad they lived to tell about it, because it brings hope to families caught in the hurry-up schedule crunch. Maybe it's time for you to withdraw from a few things and strengthen your relationships with your spouse and kids. Because I recommend it so highly, I am drawing a name from people who leave comments on this blog and sending him/her a signed copy of Just Too Busy by Joanne Kraft. The drawing will be Friday, June 10, 2011. Good luck, my friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ten Steps of a Successful Query Letter

Would you like to cut down on your rejections? Who wouldn't? The query letter is key in a writer's success. Here are ten proven steps of great queries.

  1. Make a thirty second phone call to the publishing house. Request the editorial department. Request the name of the editor who covers the topic of your proposed article or book topic. Confirm spelling and address.
  2. Write an attention-grabbing story title and use it in the subject line of your letter after "Story Proposal."
  3. Hook the editor in the first paragraph with your best creative writing.
  4. Introduce something new, maybe provocative, that will make the editor want to read your manuscript.
  5. Deliver your manuscript's focus. Tell why the readers will find value in your story.
  6. Suggest the area of the publication where your story will fit. If you do this, the editor won't have to figure it out. One less job of him/her to do.
  7. Give the approximate word count. The editor wants to know if it will fit in the section you suggested.
  8. Tell why you are qualified to write the story. Do you have credentials or have you interviewed and/or performed the required research?
  9. Tie up your query letter with a convincing statement that will make your project hard for the editor to reject.
  10. Attach samples of your previous work and close with your contact information.
As a Christian writer, I start and end my letter with prayer, asking God to bless my efforts as well as go before and with my correspondence, trusting Him to lead me to the right projects and publishers.

I am offering Queries and Submissions by Tom Clark, and recommended by Terry Whalin, to the first five people to subscribe to this blog and leave a comment. Also, please e-mail me at with your mailing address.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dealing with Writer's Block--Part 2

Last week we started discussing how to deal with writer's block from the 18th Chapter--"Writer's Block," in Donna Goodrich's A Step in the Write Direction. Today we will discuss Part 2 of the same chapter.

You're Stuck in Your Writing:
Donna says the biggest reason for this happening is that you haven't planned in advance what you're going to write. She uses outlines. The more detailed the outline, the easier your writing project will go. This works for fiction and nonfiction.

Too long with my bottom in chair wears me out and I have to get up and go for a walk. Getting out in the sunshine is great for gaining a positive perspective. Other times I need to read or pick up my knitting needles and work on something totally different. It's amazing to me that when I am reading or knitting, fresh ideas come to mind about my writing project.

One way to avoid writer's block is to hitchhike your thoughts while your writing by jotting down related ideas when you're working on your current project. While searching for a Bible verse for one devotional, you might see and idea for another devotion in a nearby verse.

You've spent a lot of time researching for an assignment. Use the research to write another article with a different slant or write a short filler article for different publishers. Sell reprints when the first contract has expired. This works if you've sold first or one time rights, but not for all rights.

What do you do when you struggle with the blank page? I'd love to read your comments.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dealing with Writer's Block--Part 1

Facing the blank page is difficult for writers, but it's something we have to deal with. Chapter 18, "Writer's Block" (reasons and solutions), in Donna Goodrich's A Step in the Write Direction is so good I wanted to capture some of the main points for you. I have divided this information into two posts. One today and the next to be published on May 15, 2011.

Sometimes life gets in the way. We may suffer from personal or family health issues, loss of job, home or someone we love. During times like these, I've found it hard to stay on track, but I try to at least write in my journal--facts, prayers or things I feel during the pain.

A Difficult Assignment:
I've had the overwhelming assignment that caused me to procrastinate, wondering how to handle the subject. Breaking the project into manageable pieces encouraged me to write a little every day. Now before I accept an assignment, I consider its complexity and if I'm really qualified to write it or if I can research it. This has saved me a lot of grief.

Too Many Assignments:
I apply for assignments and pray to receive them. Earlier this year I received several within a short period of time. It seemed daunting to me until I wrote down what was required of each one and the deadlines. Then I mapped out what I had to do each day and week to meet the deadlines. Working on two or three projects at the same time inspires and motivates me to keep writing.

No Inspiration:
Runners run, bikers bike and writer's write, right? Runners and bikers have to train every day whether or not they feel like it. Many times I don't feel inspired to write but write is what I have to do. I don't have a full time job to go to anymore, so I write. The most challenging times for me are the times between projects or assignments. During these periods I use writing prompts or market research to get me writing again.

Look for more ways to deal with writer's block next week. Meantime, if you have something that works for you, I'd love for you to leave it in a comment.